Death of Swiss composer, 103

Death of Swiss composer, 103


norman lebrecht

March 16, 2021

The pianist and composer Julien-François Zbinden, former head of music on Swiss radio, died last week at a great age.

He wrote 5 symphonies, published by Schott, and still played in public up to two years ago.

PF1096 Julien Francois Zbinden – Compositeur from Films Plans-Fixes on Vimeo.





  • John Borstlap says:

    Here is some of his music:

    A music saturated with chromaticism and 20C pain, with a touch of Frank Martin, and rooted in tradition – ignoring Klangkunst (the healthy influence of mountainous areas).

    • Richard Dubugnon says:

      Hi John. A man of such refinement like you shouldn’t fall into such common clichés, come on ;))
      JFZ was a great friend of mine and also a respected jazz pianist, so the influences were perhaps more American than Alpine…

      • John Borstlap says:

        But you are wrong, I am the very first man of refinement who has noticed the Swiss mountains as an influence on humans (the Austrian Alps have been greatly ignored by people except Bruckner). And it is general knowledge that American jazz was born from sensitive blacks after trips into the Rocky Mountains.

      • Richard Dubugnon says:

        yeah, right 😉

  • Dragonetti Bottevitsky says:

    He was so smart to write for Double Bass! If you write for that instrument the chance you will be played after your death is much bigger than with many other instruments.

  • Edgar Self says:

    What a life and career! “The snow wreathed honor of extreme age” at 103, and performing two years ago. In this rare territory, he joins Mieczyslaw Horszowski, Leo Ornstein, and Hugues Cuenod, who was Swiss also and lived to 108.

  • Basso Continuoso says:

    He wrote some excellent music for harp.